The Value of Experience in Landscape PhotographyMar 18, 2022
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
Is it the anticipation of experience, the actual experience, or the afterglow after you've experienced something that holds the most value? Why can't it be all three?
For seven short days in early March 2022, I immersed myself in experience, exploration, discovery, and so much more while wandering the desert landscapes of the Paria plateau in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Seeing things, I never knew to exist, being present with my friends, and working among this natural environment with a level of curiosity, creativity, and expression.
From mind blowing rock swirls to tree forest of stone hoodoos, deep slot canyons, remarkable river alcoves, frozen water puddles, varied sand textures, this has not only defined experience but expanded new ways to see the world and how I can choose to participate.
On my last morning I awoke to a crisp 7 degrees. Everything was frozen but just like the natural landscape it would change and transform. I had experienced everything from two snowstorms, blowing/howling winds, sunshine, and moments of blazing light and perfect conditions. Trips like this breathe life into my soul as I look to remember the vivid details of the Buckskin slot canyon, the awe-inspiring views from Alstrom Point, or the childhood magic as I discovered and walked among the magical hoodoo forest.
Being and becoming a photographer has given me so many valuable perspectives and deepened my appreciation for the natural world in which we can choose to explore. It surprises me how few people make the choice to immerse and discover nature beyond the asphalt and the viewpoints. Over the course of 7 days I stayed within a 30 mile radius of one place. I did not have to travel immense distances to experience the awe and wonder we so often seek within nature.
Rather than frantically going from place to place, shot to shot, image to image I could reflect on my path, my own experiences, and not only where I have come from but to a degree where I might be going.
In 2017 my life had reached a critical inflection point where I needed to undergo massive changes or risk implosion. I had come to this place broken and battered with little to share or offer the world aside from the ability to extract from others in the form of business, financial gain, or job creation. As I have undergone personal transformation, I have seen that I have more to offer this world than money or skills and as such, I need less. By needing less and I can experience more.
- More patience
- More perspective
- More observation
- More Peace
- More Enjoyment
Being in a recovery mindset has enabled me to deepen friendships and allowed myself the ability to see the natural environment in new ways. I don't take for granted my health, fitness, life structure, and skills to be able to experience something like this and when it is all said and done, I may leave nothing behind to show for my efforts. I do know I will not pass on with the regret of not experiencing that which this world offers, and know that I selfishly kept these experiences to myself
Seeing my friend Kevin come alive running from point to point with a childlike excitement was a rare treat and a primal enjoyment for him and for me. I do not need to extract rather I can find the ways to immerse. I do not need the world, the weather, the conditions to bend to my will, I can choose to work with what I have been presented and find a different path.
I am no longer a singular thinker on my path of life or a right/wrong or good/bad labeler of experiences. New words have been able to emerge while I continue my growth even as I experience non ideal conditions, harsh weather, modified plans, or the inability to do it all.
By opening myself to these things and considering new possibilities I have deepened my paths and thus the outcomes allowing my heart and soul to seek and ultimately continue to find the beauty of this natural world.
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